October 9, 2006
Not All Laws Reflect Data
The excellent article on the Simsbury aquifer by Susan Brachwitz and Mark Silverman [Place, Oct. 1, “Simsbury Dilemma: The Water Beneath“] makes a subtle point that begs elaboration. If scientific data showed that something is really harmful to our environment, wouldn’t there be a law against it?
No, our laws wouldn’t necessarily take care of any pollution threat to the source water for 73 percent of Simsbury if the Ethel Walker land were developed. As Brachwitz and Silverman point out, it depends on who owns the land, and the legal aspects can be complex indeed. So in this case, the disconnect between law and science could be a very costly one, both financially and in terms of the high quality of the drinking water Simsbury has come to take for granted.
Legislation and science can be quite divorced. We need look no further than the global warming issue to see how.
Michael Alan Park
The writer is a professor of biological anthropology at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.